“We are grateful to be working with the European Union and partner countries towards a collective global goal, and I’d like to underscore that is a collective global goal to significantly reduce methane emissions,” the official told CNN.
Methane’s short lifespan is why countries are targeting it to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their impact.
“Rapidly reducing methane emissions may be the single most effective strategy to keep the 1.5-degree limit in reach, in terms of near-term actions one can take,” the senior administration official told CNN, adding that methane currently accounts for about half a degree of warming.
If the world stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow, Koven said, global temperatures wouldn’t begin to cool for many years because of how long the gas stays in the atmosphere. Reducing methane is the easiest knob to turn to change the path of global temperature in the next 10 years, he said.
Methane is the main component of natural gas, which powers close to 40% of the US electricity sector. It can enter the atmosphere through leaks from oil and natural gas wells, natural gas pipelines and the processing equipment itself.
According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, the US has thousands of active wells for natural gas, millions of abandoned oil and gas wells, about two million miles of natural gas pipelines, and several refineries that process the gas.
One in three Americans lives in a county with oil and gas operations, posing climate and public health risks, according to a report by the Environmental Defense Fund.